The Ministries of Apotles & Prophets in the Church Today
by Rich Murphy


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There is much confusion about the five-fold ministry in the church today, especially the ministry of apostles and prophets. Many times, instead of a five-fold ministry, it seems that we believe in a two-fold ministry; pastors and evangelists. The pastors are those who stay in one place, pasturing a church; and the evangelists are those who move around from place to place.

Oh, we have teachers as well, but they can only teach Sunday school classes to the children. There isn't any other reason for that ministry office.

This misunderstanding is robbing the Body of Christ from receiving all that God desires to pour out on His people. If God established a five-fold ministry, and we are only receiving from two parts of it, we are only receiving forty percent of what we need.

Each office in the five-fold ministry has a specific focus, purpose, and anointing. Each contains one part of the ministry and anointing of Jesus. Each provides something that the Body of Christ needs to accomplish God's will here upon the earth.

The church has lost the ministries of the prophet and apostle. Along with that, we have lost part of the blessing of God for the church. However, God is working today to restore these essential parts of the ministry.


And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

Eph 4:11-13

Paul didn't establish anything new here. All of the five-fold ministry offices existed in the Old Testament. Obviously the prophets existed, because the Old Testament contains a number of books written by them. We also find the pastor, embodied in the Aaronic priesthood. But, there are also apostles, teachers, and evangelists.

To start out, let's clarify the roles of the pastor, evangelist, and teacher. These three form the foundational government of the local church, and perform the majority of the ministry to God's sheep.

Pastor

The pastor is the prime caretaker of the Lord's sheep. The Lord was very specific in his choice of titles here, using an image that was common in that day, and clearly portrayed the work of a spiritual pastor as being the same as a pastor of sheep. The pastor has three basic functions. They are:

  • Protect the sheep

  • Make sure the sheep are well fed

  • Lead the sheep where they need to go

Although most people look at the feeding part as the major part of the pastor's work, this isn't true. Actually, there is nothing in scripture that says a pastor is responsible to feed the sheep himself. He can, but he doesn't have to. Instead, he is responsible to make sure they have access to good food, but that isn't the same as feeding them himself.

A pastor can make sure the sheep are fed by bringing in people who have food for the sheep. To best feed the sheep, he needs help from a combination of all of the other members of the five-fold ministry, because each has a different flavor of food, with different nutrients, to provide. He can augment this feeding with good Christian books he's read, recommending and providing them to the congregation. It's even possible to recommend that the sheep go hear a speaker that's at another church (I realize that's a really radical thought).

The leadership part of a pastor's responsibility is more by his example than anything else. There's a saying in the church that goes something like, "as a pastor goes, so goes his congregation." The amount of truth in this statement is incredible. If a pastor is strong in an area, his church will also tend to be strong in that area. But, if he has an area of weakness, or sin, so will his congregation.

These weaknesses are part of why it is so important for a pastor to bring in other ministers to feed the sheep. Everyone has weaknesses, and we must diligently work to overcome them. But, more important than that, we don't want to pass our weaknesses on to others. By brining in others to minister, who are anointed in areas where the pastor isn't, he helps the sheep to grow in areas where he can't help them personally.

Of all the pastor's responsibilities, protecting the sheep is the greatest and most difficult part. When King David was a boy, he had the responsibility of watching over and protecting his father's sheep. As part of his work, he killed both a lion and a bear (1 Sam 17:34-37).

Although we don't find too many lions and bears entering our churches today to eat the members of our congregations, we do find the spiritual equivalent. Both Jesus, and Paul warned us about "wolves" coming into the churches (Mt 7:15; 10:16; Lk 10:3; Acts 20:29). These "wolves" are false prophets, and other false ministers, who come into the church not to help, but in order to take from the sheep. They are interested in receiving glory, instead of giving it to God.

Don't think that all the wolves are ministers who come into the church. Many churches have wolves within the church, often hidden within the leadership. Witches and Satanists make a concerted effort to infiltrate the church. They know all the right words to say, know the Bible, and know how to act like a Christian. But, their allegiance is to Satan, not to Jesus.

Peter also warned us that "Satan goes around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pt 5:8). Not that he is a lion, but he sure likes to pretend he is.

How does a pastor protect the flock from these wolves and lions? By discernment and by prayer. It is amazing how stupid sheep can be, not recognizing dangers, eating bad food, and drinking bad water. No wonder the Lord used sheep as an analogy for the members of the Body of Christ; they'll do the same thing without a pastor to take care of them.

Because of a pastor's greater experience, and anointing, he is often better able to discern the wolves, and lions that may try and attack the sheep under his care. He is then able to warn the sheep and lead them into a safer direction.

But, the greatest part of a pastor's protection for the Lord's sheep is in prayer. It is there that pastor's can most effectively battle against those who would try and devour the sheep. A true pastor will always be in prayer for his congregation. Not just for their petitions, but for God's will and God's protection over their lives.

Evangelist

The work of the evangelist is twofold; evangelizing and motivating. Although everyone in the Body of Christ has a responsibility to help fulfill the great commission, the evangelist is called, equipped and anointed specifically in this area.

This doesn't necessarily preaching evangelistic campaigns, however. Statistics show that the most effective evangelism isn't in campaigns, it's in one-on-one ministry. Although some evangelists will in fact preach, not all will. In fact, I believe that the majority of evangelists aren't called to preach from the pulpit, but on an individual basis.

The other part of an evangelist's ministry is encouraging and motivating people to serve God. Their messages will be very emotional, very animated, and very alive. But, they won't be very full of deep spiritual truths.

If a believer only receives the message of an evangelist, their spirit will die of starvation. Instead of living on the truth of God's Word, they will be trying to live from one event to another. Each event will excite them, but because of a lack of foundational truth, they won't be able to continue walking on a day-to-day basis. Their lives will be unfruitful, and they will constantly be in crisis.

However, without the work of the evangelist, many, if not most people will never come to know the Lord. Those that do, will be dry and full of knowledge, but not motivated to do anything with that knowledge.

We were in a combined church service for Holy Week. Seven different preachers were preaching on the last seven things that Jesus said, a traditional Hispanic theme during this week. Of the seven preachers, one unfortunately couldn't come, so someone else had to take his place. Unfortunately, that pastor didn't have any time to prepare, so didn't have much to say. Of the other six, three had prepared and had something to say, and said it. Their messages were full of spiritual revelation, and understanding to feed the gathered believers. The other three jumped up and down, ran back and forth, yelled and otherwise displayed great excitement. But, they really didn't say anything. The people enjoyed their ministry, got excited, but their spirits weren't fed. Those three men were evangelists.

Teacher

Some people say that there is no separate office of a teacher, and that the verse actually is talking about the pastor also being a teacher. I agree that all pastors should teach. But, not all teachers are called to be pastors.

The teacher is actually the one who should do the majority of the feeding of the sheep. Although, like I said, all pastors should teach. So, the pastor, in his role as a teacher, can partially fulfill this role.

The role of the teacher is to study and teach. Some teachers have an anointing to teach adults, others teens, and still others children. Some teachers have an anointing to only teach a certain subject, or area of subjects. It is important to seek out the particular anointing that a teacher has, and use him in that area. Trying to have a teacher that is anointed to teach adults about the Holy Spirit teach children doesn't work. The teacher ends up talking over the children's heads. Likewise, a teacher anointed to teach children doesn't teach in a manner that will appeal to youth.


These three ministry gifts, when working together, under the proper authority, will bless the congregation and help it to grow to maturity. But, what's that proper authority?

In the church today, we have a pastor, or senior pastor, as the head governmental figure in charge of that particular congregation. While I don't agree with that, I feel a little defining is in order.

In the New Testament, we see a number of places where the position of "bishop" is mentioned (Acts 1:20; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:1-2; Tit 1:7). There is another term used, and that is "overseer" (Acts 20:28). These two terms actually have the same definition. Although the church today sees the position of bishop as being over a city, or group of churches, the original meaning of the word was what we consider the senior pastor of a church.

As the church grew, and formalized it's structure, it moved from home based churches, to church buildings. Originally, the presiding elder, called a bishop, was over the group of home churches. However, very early on, less than 100 years after the death of Jesus, the title bishop became used more commonly for the presiding elder over a city.

So, the proper title of a pastor in charge of a church is "bishop." I mention this because a church may have more than one pastor. The senior one of these is the bishop. The other pastors, the evangelists, and the teachers work under the spiritual covering and authority of this bishop. They may travel out from that church to minister in other congregations, but they must always remain submitted to the authority of that bishop. Even those in the ministry who travel extensively still need to be under the covering of a senior pastor, or bishop.

A third term that needs clarification is "elder" (1 Tim 5:17; Tit 1:5; 1 Pt 5:1; Jms 5:14). This has become a separate governmental position within the church today, but in the New Testament church it referred to anyone who was in a ministry position. Peter and John both referred to themselves as elders (1 Pet 5:1; 2 Jn 1:1; 3 Jn 1:1). Paul, writing to Titus, one of his spiritual sons, reminded him to of his charge to appoint and ordain elders (Tit 1:5). We also see a number of places in the book of Acts where the members of the ruling council of the Jews were referred to as "elders."


Now that we've dealt with the local church government, and those ministry offices, we can get on with the ministry of the prophet and apostle.

Prophet

Throughout history, the prophet has always been God's messenger, or mouthpiece. He has used them to communicate his warnings and plans; especially when His people weren't otherwise listening to His voice. Most of these messages appeared negative to the average believer, and especially to the unbeliever.

However, the idea we have today of prophets is not the same. When we talk of prophets in the church, we think that the message and purpose of the prophet has changed to giving nice, sweet, uplifting words. God hasn't changed, only our understanding has. This understanding has come from a misunderstanding of First Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 3:

But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

1 Cor 14:3

If we take a closer look at the definition of the three underlined words, we see that they are not nice, sweet, uplifting words, but in fact are strong words.

  • Edification (Strong's number 3619) - the act of one who promotes another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, happiness 1

  • Exhortation (Strong's number 3874) - a calling near, summons, imploration, supplication, entreaty; words of appeal, containing entreaties; admonition, encouragement; persuasive discourse, stirring address, instructive, admonitory, consolatory, powerful oratory discourse 1

  • Comfort (Strong's number 3889) - any address, whether made for the purpose of persuading, or of arousing and stimulating, or of calming and consoling 1

Read those definitions closely, they're very enlightening. Don't just skim over them, you won't receive the full impact of what they are saying.

You can't promote another's growth (edification) by telling them they're okay, and God's happy with them the way they are. Nor can you call someone near by telling them they're near enough. Nor is it very persuasive to say that "you're okay."

As I said, these are strong words, and the true prophet's message is a strong one. For this reason, a prophet is not readily accepted in many places. The average person isn't interested in a strong word of correction, rebuke and direction. They want a word of affirmation, that makes it seem as if God is not only pleased with them but grateful to them for the little that they do for Him.

There is another area of confusion about prophecy in the Body of Christ today. That is, the difference between prophecy and declaration. Believers will say something like, "I prophesy to the principalities over this city, let the people go!" In fact, they aren't prophesying, they are making a declaration against the spirits of darkness. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is wrong to call it prophecy. It is only prophecy when we are speaking forth what the Holy Spirit has commanded us to speak.

Most prophets don't actually hear many words, instead they see visions. For this reason, the Bible also calls them "seers." They see things in the spirit realm, as allowed by the Holy Spirit, and describe what it is they are seeing.

This is obvious if anyone spends any time at all studying the books of prophecy in the Bible. Or, if you just take a brief look at the book of Revelations (the only book of prophecy in the New Testament), you will see the same thing. John was shown by the Spirit those things which were to come. Repeatedly, throughout the book, John uses the words, "I saw." He tried to describe in words those things that he saw in the vision.

All true prophets are also intercessors. To me, this is the proof of whether someone is a prophet. Many people want the "glamour" of giving forth a word of prophecy, so that they seem spiritual. But, not many people want to spend the time in gaining an intimate relationship with the Lord so that they will have a true word to bring forth.

One of the greatest errors that young prophets make is to assume that every word the Lord gives them needs to be given to the individual that the word is about. This is untrue. The hardest part of a prophet's training is learning discernment about when to give forth a word. Most of the words a prophet receives are not for him to bring forth, but for him to pray about. Possibly after praying the Lord will have him give that word, but many times it will never go farther than the prophet and the Lord.

Prophets are people who spend a lot of time with the Lord in prayer and worship. It is impossible to bring forth a message from God, without truly hearing His voice. It is impossible to hear his voice without closing off the distractions of the world, and focusing on Him.

Unfortunately, although there are true prophets in the church today, the Body of Christ has been besieged with many false prophets, or simply unstable prophets. Some of these are women with unsaved husbands, who truly want to be spiritual, and want to be used by God. Many might even have a true calling to be a prophet. However, because they are not properly submitted under authority (because their husband is unsaved) they are easy prey for the enemy, and will often hear false words just as easily as they hear true ones.

Another error of false prophecy that happens in the Body of Christ today is that people say things which are of themselves, and call it prophecy. They are actually performing "Christian witchcraft" (by definition, witchcraft is using supernatural means to control, or manipulate others). This might happen because they believe a person, usually a pastor needs to do something that they are not doing. Or, because they aren't being heard, and they feel that adding "Thus sayeth the Lord" to their words will make people pay attention.

We must be cautious about misusing the Lord's name, especially to manipulate or control others. Those who do will have to answer to the Lord for their actions, and I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

A true prophet is very cautious about the words that they bring forth. They understand the seriousness of the office which they hold, and the grave responsibility of speaking forth something of God. They never bring forth a word lightly.

For these reasons, it is much easier to prophecy to people that one doesn't know, than to one's own congregation, family, or friends. When a prophet knows the person, they are usually unsure if the word is from the Lord, or from themselves, and will often withhold it. However, when the Holy Spirit reveals something to them about someone they don't know, it is easier to be sure that it is truly a word from the Lord.

Prophets will often be dramatic in their presentation, and may even use various props, or actions to demonstrate their message. Before Paul's journey to Jerusalem, when he was arrested, a prophet named Agabus came to him, took Paul's belt, and bound his own hands with it. Then he prophesied that the owner of the belt would be bound in the same manner by the Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-11). This may have seemed a little overdone to the casual viewer, but the prophet had obviously heard from the Holy Spirit, because the word he gave came to pass.

Even with being dramatic, the prophet isn't trying to attract attention to himself, only to the message he is bringing forth. True prophets are very humble people. They don't go looking for position, or title, only for truth and God's presence. A mark of a false prophet (or, one gone astray) is that they try and draw attention to themselves.

Most prophets are uncomfortable being part of a church congregation. They feel like they don't fit in. Because they are extremely serious about God, His Word, and their relationship with Him, the average Christian seems to them to be very worldly and uncommitted to God.

However, this doesn't mean that a prophet shouldn't be part of a regular church congregation. They need the fellowship, teaching, encouragement, accountability, and spiritual covering that every other believer needs. If a prophet distances himself from the Body of Christ, or tries to be a "lone ranger" without being submitted to anyone else's authority, they are putting themselves in a position of being easily led astray by the enemy.

A prophecy always has two parts. The first part is whatever the prophet, or person moving in the gift of prophecy, receives from the Holy Spirit. The second part is the interpretation. It is important that we differentiate between the two, because otherwise, we can end up misunderstanding the plans and purposes of God.

The part which is the actual prophecy is seldom wrong. Almost anyone moving in prophecy can receive this part correctly; as long as they are receiving it from the Holy Spirit and not from their own mind. This part can be a vision, one word, one sentence, a whole lengthy exposition, a scripture verse, a parable, or just an impression in their spirit. When the prophet is giving forth the prophecy, this is usually the first part.

The harder part is the interpretation of the prophecy. This is where we can easily get into error. The interpretation is the understanding of what the prophecy means. There can be more than one interpretation to any prophecy, and the prophet needs to be very careful in what they give.

A number of years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, we received a prophecy from someone who was known to be a prophet. He told us that we would have a son, and the son's name would be "Joshua David, and he would have red hair." Since my wife was very obviously pregnant, the prophet, the pastor of the church, the congregation, and ourselves all thought that the prophecy was talking about the baby which was currently in her womb. We were all greatly surprised when she gave birth to a girl! The prophecy wasn't wrong, just the interpretation. Joshua was our second child.

Prophecy can be either for an individual, a congregation, a city, a region, a nation, or the world. God will often increase a true, mature prophet's influence beyond his own church, or area. It is very important that the prophet properly discern who the message is for.

Personal prophecy should always confirm, and never direct. If a prophet gives a word of prophecy to an individual, and the person has never heard the Lord speak to them about that particular thing, they should not take action on it. Instead, they should put it "on the shelf" and wait until the Lord speaks to them.

Prophets can be a great asset to a pastor (or, bishop). A prophet and pastor who form a good working relationship can rely on each other's strengths. When the pastor is needing confirmation on something the Lord is telling him, he can receive that through the prophet. When the prophet is seeing, or hearing something from the Lord that needs to be brought forth in the church, he can pass it on to the pastor, and allow the pastor to bring about the necessary change.

Unfortunately, it is very rare that pastors and prophets form this good a working relationship. Most prophets in the church try and tell the pastor what to do, and are upset when he doesn't do it. Most pastors are suspicious of the prophets, because the sheep gravitate to them, wanting a word.

Although a church will always contain pastors, evangelists, and teachers, it will not always contain prophets. Due to the nature of their ministry, prophets may work with a number of different ministers within a given area.

Apostles

The apostolic ministry is actually the first one that our Lord, Jesus, established in the New Testament church.

And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.

Lk 6:13

Why did Jesus establish the apostolic ministry first? Because it was to be the foundation of the church government in the New Testament, as the priesthood was the foundation of the ministry in the Old Testament. So, without apostles in the ministry, the ministry gifts are literally without the necessary foundation.

And (you) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

Eph 2:20

The word apostle is a Greek word, and literally means, "one who is sent." If I tell my son to take out the trash, he is an apostle to the trash. In the Christian context, that means that an apostle is one who is commissioned by the Lord, and sent to accomplish a specific purpose.

Although they are not called apostles (because that term being Greek, didn't exist until the New Testament) we find apostles in the Old Testament as well. The greatest examples of these are Moses, and Nehemiah. In both of these cases, they were commissioned by God, and sent out, to accomplish a specific purpose for His kingdom.

The most common understanding of the apostolic ministry is that of pioneers, doing the missionary work 2 of planting churches in new areas of the world. This is based upon Paul's ministry, as shown in the book of Acts. While this is part of the apostolic ministry, it is not all of it. This definition totally ignores the works of the other 12 apostles. Nor is it even all of what Paul did.

Actually, true missionaries should be apostles, not evangelists. The western concept of missionaries evangelizing the country, and nothing else, is incorrect. As I stated earlier, when I was talking about evangelists, if a believer tries to live off the spiritual diet he receives from an evangelist, he will die. The evangelist will get him saved, and will keep him encouraged, but the believer won't know how to live a victorious life for the Lord.

Due to the nature of the apostle's ministry, especially when he is pioneering, he will sometimes have to function in the other ministry offices. Paul, in his missionary journeys, clearly fulfilled the roles of evangelist, pastor, and teacher. We know that he also prophesied, because he said he did. Although I can't think of a specific instance of this in the book of Acts; we do see that he moved in a prophetic manner, following the leading of the Holy Spirit in his travels.

Additionally, spiritual pioneering doesn't always mean to go out into a new physical area and plant churches. There are other types of pioneering work to be done. Some pioneering is to open new spiritual areas of revelation and teaching. This is as much pioneering as planting a church, and usually has a broader impact on the church overall.

Paul didn't only plant churches, but trained and "raised up" leaders for the churches in each of the cities where the Holy Spirit sent him to work. Then, once he left those cities, he continued to minister to those churches, and especially to their leadership, by the letters he wrote and in many cases returning to visit and strengthen those churches.

A great part of an apostle's focus is on the other ministry gifts, and ministering to those who are operating in them. This is especially true of those in the pastoral ministry. In the same way that pastors have a heart for the sheep, apostles have a heart for the pastors.

In this capacity, apostles actually pastor the pastors. They are the ones whom the pastor should go to for prayer, counsel, instruction and spiritual help. They also act to correct, edify, exhort, and encourage the pastors.

Part of the frustration that pastors are dealing with is because they don't have an apostolic covering to go to with their problems. They are trying to carry much more emotional load than God intended them to, and it is coming out in frustration, stress, and burnout. Pastors need the emotional release, and support of having someone who they can go to with the problems, just like their congregations come to them.

In the current systems of church government, the pastor usually reports to either a district superintendent for the denomination, or to the board of his own church. If he is reporting to a superintendent, then in a sense he is reporting to a boss. The pastor can't be honest about his problems, for fear that the superintendent can remove him from his position. Instead of having a mentor he can be honest and open with, the pastor has to hide his feelings, doubts, and problems.

This is even worse in a situation where the pastor is reporting to the board of his own church. In addition to the inability to be honest, there is an authority problem. Spiritually, he is supposed to be over people who are organizationally over him. That creates an authority circle, preventing any true authority.

In either of these circumstances, the pastor is unable to truly follow the leading of the Lord, especially if the Lord is directing him to preach something that goes against the desires of his board. He if forced to decide between obeying the Lord, and obeying man. Unfortunately, man usually wins.

In the book of Acts, we see that the apostles who were there worked together and formed somewhat of a council, along with the elders; governing over the church (Acts 15:6). When decisions had to be made on doctrine, or organization, they were made by this group of apostles and elders. We see this in chapter six, when the need for the position of deacon was realized (Acts 6:2-3). We also see it when Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem to settle the question about the need for circumcision.

And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

Acts 15:6

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Acts 6:2-3

However, nowhere in scripture do we see this governing council taking disciplinary action on a pastor, or minister. They didn't remove pastors from office, nor did they direct them to preach in a particular way. They were a resource available to the other ministry gifts.

A large part of this "resource" was the spiritual covering that the apostles offered to the other ministry gifts. While any believer has the right to go to God for his own needs, there has always been an authority structure that God has created.

In the family, this authority structure is through the man, acting as the head of the house and as the priest of the home. He receives his authority from Jesus, who has received it from God the Father. In turn, he passes this authority on to his wife. She operates under his authority, and has him as a resource to use if her authority is questioned.

Within the church, we see a similar authority structure. All authority flows "downhill" from God's throne. Jesus, as the head of the church, receives His authority from His Father. He, in turn, passes that authority on to the apostles, who pass it on to the head pastors (bishops) of the various congregations. Whatever other elders, leaders, and ministers exist within those churches receive their authority from that head pastor.

By breaking this chain, at any point, we lose the best possible connection to God's authority. That doesn't mean that believers can't receive God's authority on their own, but they won't have the connection that God ordained. So, there is a strong possibility that they won't have the fullness of God's authority available to them.

There are governmental levels in spiritual realms. These are called "principalities, powers and rulers." Each has a different realm of authority, a different authority level, and a different manner of operation.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Eph:6:12

Likewise, we have different levels of authority in the different ministry gifts. Here is where the apostle's authority is truly needed. At times, a pastor is confronted with different types of spiritual attacks. Without the spiritual covering of an apostle, he can be battling against powers and rulers that he is not actually anointed, or prepared to battle against. With the apostolic covering, he is able to draw upon the apostle's anointing, understanding, and experience in these battles. Instead of fighting alone, he has the spiritual support he needs.

Accountability is a major issue in the church today, and is directly connected to authority. Someone who is not properly submitted to authority doesn't have the right to exercise authority over others. An evangelist, or teacher who isn't submitted to a pastor doesn't have the right to exercise authority. Likewise, for a pastor who isn't submitted under the authority of an apostle.

This, of course, raises the question of who the apostle is to submit to. We see from the scriptural example of the early church that the apostles submitted one to another. When Paul started out in his ministry, he went to Peter to have his ministry confirmed. He freely submitted to Peter's authority (Gal 1:18).

However, we later see that Peter was in error, and Paul corrected him (Gal 2:11-14). In this case, Peter submitted to Paul. Both were humble men, who accepted the authority of another apostle in their lives.

One final point on apostles. A pastor's focus is on his congregation. An apostle's focus is more over a city, region, or even the world.

Because of the type of ministry an apostle has, his work will take him into many different situations and congregations, seeing what has worked in other places, and learning from a broad base of sources. Because of this, he will have a different focus, and understanding than the pastor does. This difference in focus can also be an asset to the pastor. He is able to advise the pastor on problems within the church, help the pastor deal with leadership issues, and increase the work of the church congregation.


There is a need of reestablishing the prophetic, and especially the apostolic ministry in the church today. This in fact is happening. Only when it is truly, fully in place will the Body of Christ be able to receive the fullness of what God desires for His church to have.

If your church has been functioning without the fullness of the five-fold ministry, I encourage you to seek out ministers who the Lord has gifted and anointed in these areas. Seek which of them the Lord would have you form relationships with, and enter into a covenant relationship with them. Accept from them, and allow them to minister to your lives.

I would caution you however to be cautious about who you form these relationships with. The New Testament warns us several times about both false prophets, and false apostles.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Mt:7:15

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1 Jn:4:1

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2 Cor:11:13

One sure sign of a false prophet, or false apostle, which is actually a "wolf," is what they ask from you. Jesus didn't go around asking for the people to give to him; neither did Paul. They set out to do good and be a blessing to all they came into contact with. They formed relationships. They gave and ministered.

Wolves try and get from the sheep, shepherds try and give to them. Likewise prophet and apostle wolves try and get, instead of give. The difference is that they are trying to get from the pastor, instead of give to him.

The Bible is always about our Lord, and being in relationship with Him. Likewise, when the Bible talks about the church, it talks about relationship one with another. Notice that I didn't mention joining the organization of a prophet, or apostle, I talked about entering into relationship with them. If all you are receiving is membership in an organization, you aren't receiving the blessing of those ministries. You only receive it through relationship.


1 Definitions taken from "Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament" fourth edition, © 1977 by Baker Book House. A lexicon is an in-depth language dictionary. For those that are familiar with Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the lexicon provides a more complete definition than that provided in the dictionary in Strong's. This particular lexicon is keyed to the Strong's numbering system.

2 The word "missionary" doesn't exist in the Bible. It is a word that was later created by the church for those who did cross-cultural work, usually in foreign lands. It is interesting to note that the root word of "missionary" is "mission," meaning that one who is a missionary is one who has been sent on a mission. This comes very close to the definition of "apostle."

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